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Issue Date: July 2005 Issue


Pet Owner Profiles

Cleveland Indians pitcher Matt Miller and Chevy

Like all quality relationships, timing is everything. Such is the case with Indians pitcher Matt Miller and his rottweiler, Chevy.

"I was pitching in Colorado Springs two years ago and my wife and I were ready to buy a Yorkshire terrier, but the pet store wouldn't take an out-of-town check," remembers Miller. The couple had planned to return the next day for the terrier, but "that same day one of my teammates bought a rottweiler," says Miller. "Well, we spent the whole night playing with his dog, and we loved it so much we went back the next day and got Chevy instead."

Chevy, named after the truck Miller owned at the time ("Good thing I didn't own a Yugo," he says), is the first dog Miller and his wife, Mandy, have owned as a married couple. There was another dog that was, well, strike one.

"About three years ago, I bought my soon-to-be wife a miniature dachshund for Christmas," he says. "Named him Slider. Let's just say he didn't take too kindly to Mandy -- he would just look at her and growl. We went on a road trip and my future in-laws said they'd watch him. They've had him ever since."

So being the lone child in the house, is Chevy spoiled rotten?

"Oh, spoiled probably isn't the right word," he says. "Let's just say he gets a lot of attention. We're planning to have kids, but right now, Chevy is our baby. He travels with us. He sleeps with us. It's kind of like having a 100-pound third person in bed.

"I know it's bad to let your kid sleep with you, but your dog's OK, right?" he wonders.

And while Chevy might be a good pet, it sounds like he could double as a really good couch potato, too. "He's kind of lazy, to tell you the truth," says Miller. "He likes to do nothing and watch a lot of TV. He's a big 'SportsCenter' fan."

For Matt Miller, it truly is the American Way. Baseball. And Chevy.

Q104.1's Rebecca Wilde and Holyfield

Most people plan names for their baby. They spend a lot of time thinking about it. They have a set list of boy and girl names. They ask friends and family for their opinions. Eventually, they home in on a couple of choices. And when the baby arrives, they finally make their decision.

Then, there's Q104.1's Rebecca Wilde, who named her cat Holyfield after looking at her ear.

"She lost part of her ear because of frostbite," says Wilde. "With the whole Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield's ear thing, was there any other name?"

When Wilde moved to Cleveland more than four years ago, a friend asked her if she'd like to adopt Holyfield. "She was just the cutest thing," says Wilde. "There was no way I could say no."

Wilde admits that Holyfield is "totally spoiled and she has me wrapped around her little cat fingers," she says. "To tell you the truth, I don't know if I'd ever get another pet in the house with Holyfield.

I have friends who got a second animal, and the first one winds up never forgiving them."

A self-proclaimed animal lover since Day One ("I've had dogs and cats my whole life," she says), she describes Holyfield as the ultimate indoor cat.

"As far as cats go, she's a total scaredy-cat," said Wilde. "When she actually does go outside, I have to sit out there next to her because she's afraid the cat next door is going to kill her."

Wilde also claims Holyfield is such a good little kitty, she never even meows. Well, almost never.

"There's this one closet in my house where she always meows whenever she goes near it," says Wilde. "It kind of creeps me out, to tell you the truth. The thing is, I think I've lived in haunted houses before and I don't feel anything weird about that closet, but she obviously does.

"Maybe Mike Tyson was in there once. Who knows?"

Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz and Gracie (aka Rufus)

One dog. Two names.

Welcome to the tortured home life of Pulitzer Prize-winning Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz.

"My daughter and I had our pug, Gracie, for six years and everything was just fine," says Schultz. "Then last year I got married [to U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown]. First, he insisted she wasn't even a dog because she quivered and squirmed so much. Then, for some inexplicable reason, he decided to start calling her Rufus."

Sadly for Schultz, the story doesn't end there. "Much to my daughter's chagrin, Gracie now responds to him when he calls her Rufus," she says.

Despite the identity crisis, Schultz insists she'd never overcompensate to boost Grac ... Rufu ... her dog's self-esteem.

"I wouldn't say she's a high-maintenance dog; but yes, we treat her well," says Schultz. "Is it my fault she has to sit at my feet under the bed while I write? Or that she can't eat regular dog food because she has allergies, or that she can't eat normal dog treats because they make her sneeze? Have you ever seen a pug sneeze? They barely have noses!"

Because she's a pug, at least she's tough, right? Street smart?

"Oh, absolutely. That describes Gracie perfectly," she says. "She's very, very tough. As an example, the second she hears another dog bark she runs behind me, trembles and pees. They don't get any more intimidating than that."

Gracie is actually one of three pets in the house. Cats Reggie and Winnie round out the petting zoo.

"Gracie and Reggie get along great," says Schultz. "Winnie? Winnie hates the dog. Hates the dog. Then again, Winnie doesn't like much. Come to think of it, everyone in the house basically leaves Winnie alone except me."

One dog. Two cats. Four names. For some reason, it seems to add up just fine for the lady with the Pulitzer.

Hall of Famer Bob Feller, Anne Feller and Felix

Sometimes even the fastest pitchers get one snuck by them, too.

"About nine years ago, we looked out in the back yard and saw this stray cat," remembers Anne Feller, wife of legendary Indians pitcher Bob Feller. "He kept popping out of the woods and ever so slowly inching a little bit closer to the house. Eventually Bob said, 'Give him some milk and he'll go away.' Well, as soon as Bob picked him up, the cat purred. The deal was sealed right then and there."

Felix Feller has been an important part of the Feller family ever since. "I've probably had hundreds of cats in my life," says Bob. "But Felix? I've never seen a cat like him. Anne and I both say that this is Felix's house and we just live here with him."

Felix also has the distinction of being the only cat ever admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Sort of.

"I go down to the Hall of Fame every year, and a few years ago they took me over to where my plaque was and they had put a fake Felix plaque next to mine," says Bob.

The plaque read in part: "Felix Feller, 'All Fours Felix.' Combined a steady diet of Meow Mix and regimented exercise to become one of the toughest cats in Ohio. Set the single season record for mice caught."

Bob and Anne actually had a scare a few months back when Felix went out in the morning and didn't come back for nearly three weeks.

"We walked all over the property looking for him every day," says Anne. "Then one morning I opened the kitchen door, called his name and there he was. Bob was out of town and I called him right away. It was such a sense of relief."

To the list of Bob Feller's greatest accomplishments, you can also add "cat comber."

"For some reason, he won't let Anne brush his hair, but he'll sit still for me and I'll comb him out every day," says Bob.

"Who's in charge here?" asks Anne. "Definitely not us."

Artist Derek Hess and Jose

Cleveland artist Derek Hess describes his Pomeranian dog Jose as "having tons of hair. He's one of those nasty, yippy types of things."

Talk about true love.

Hess -- who might be the only artist with permanent exhibits in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Louvre -- admits he was a cat person growing up. But like all young men, he fell under the spell of a woman. A woman with a dog.

"I had a girlfriend about five years ago who got him out of a pound in Columbus," he says. "When we broke up, she offered him to me. He's got a great temperament. Heck, he doesn't even need a leash. How could I say no?"

Hess says he and his dog are known around his neighborhood in Lakewood as "Jose and That Guy." Hess likes to take Jose for walks at least four times a day. "That's one perk to being self-employed: I can do what I want, when I want," he says.

"Jose really likes the beach, but once that starts getting busy, I like to take him on walks around Browns Stadium."

Despite Jose's diminutive stature, Hess wants it to be known that size doesn't matter. At least when you're a nasty, yippy Pomeranian.

One night a friend was watching Jose, and she let him out in the back to do his business, remembers Hess. "He wouldn't stop barking. She kept telling him to shut up because he was going to wake up the neighborhood, but he wouldn't stop."

When she finally went out to quiet him down, a man holding a crowbar darted out from behind her garage. "The guy was obviously planning on breaking into something," says Hess. "She went inside and called the Lakewood police and they caught him a little while later.

"So you could say my dog Jose is a superhero," he says. "All 14 pounds of him."

 

 


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